Eddie Alvarez on Khabib Nurmagomedov’s title victory

MMA


Eddie Alvarez knows how this must look.

The UFC crowned Khabib Nurmagomedov as its new lightweight champion last weekend, following a dominant showing over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.

As lopsided as the bout was, Alvarez (29-5) said he wasn’t impressed with Nurmagomedov (26-0) at all. As a lightweight contender who would love to challenge Nurmagomedov next, Alvarez is probably expected to say that.

But that doesn’t mean he’s making it up.

“People will say, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to talk himself into that fight,’ but I’m not talking myself into s—,” Alvarez told ESPN. “I thought the same thing about Khabib that anyone who knows a thing about fighting did: He didn’t look good.

“Defensively, he looked terrible. Of course, he’s always dominant on top, and Al is a good fighter — but even the entrances on his takedowns looked forced. They didn’t look clean or set up. After the 10-minute mark, he looked like he’d wore himself out. I saw a ton of vulnerabilities.”

Whether Alvarez gets an opportunity to hand Nurmagomedov his first loss is anyone’s guess at the moment.

Alvarez is a former champion and has won four of his past five, but he’s potentially in competition with Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson and even Georges St-Pierre for the next lightweight title shot.

“Tony’s knee is busted; he’s out for 2018 is the way I look at it. Conor also might be out for 2018. Georges has never fought at 155. I’m the only guy standing here. And I happen to be his worst matchup.”

Eddie Alvarez, on his chances of fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov

He’s also in a unique contractual situation, as there is only one fight left on his current deal. Alvarez, 34, said there has not been much discussion regarding an extension, but he expects that to change within the next month.

“The UFC made me an initial offer to re-sign, and it was a low offer,” Alvarez said. “It wasn’t what I had in mind. I’m OK with it, though. At some point, we’re going to sit down and come to an agreement that maybe we both won’t be totally happy with, but it will be an agreement.

“My last fight [against Justin Gaethje] was a proving ground that I’m not going anywhere. I’m only getting better with age. I think the difference with me and other athletes is I’ve been drug-free my entire career. A lot of guys have done steroids, and they can’t compete as they age. I’ve been natural my whole life.”

Nurmagomedov will take the summer off to observe Ramadan, a Muslim month of fasting, and is expected to return in the fall.

With Ferguson currently sidelined with a knee injury, McGregor possibly facing legal repercussions on a criminal felony charge filed last week and St-Pierre a longtime welterweight, Alvarez actually likes his chances to get the 155-pound title shot.

“The only names I see him throwing out there are Conor, Tony and St-Pierre, which is funny, because when I had the belt, Khabib gave me so much s— for fighting Conor, and now the first thing out of his mouth is that he wants St-Pierre, who isn’t even in the weight class — or Conor,” Alvarez said.

“Tony’s knee is busted; he’s out for 2018 is the way I look at it. Conor also might be out for 2018. Georges has never fought at 155. I’m the only guy standing here. And I happen to be his worst matchup.”



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